Video Doorbells – The Next Big Thing

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.41.19 PMring 2Thousands of security professionals and specialists have gathered in Las Vegas this week for ISC West 2016, the largest trade show for the security industry in North America.

Several themes have emerged for this years show but one of the most prominent is the race for the front door bell.  First there was the Smart Door Bell, then integrated doors, locks and lighting and 2016 is poised to be the year of the Smart Door Bell.

What once was seen as a niche product is now main stream with several companies including Alarm.com, Qolsys, 2Gig and Ring showing off their new smart door bells at this years show.

The show starts tomorrow … Stay tuned we’ll keep you posted.

skybell hd gocontrol door bell

 

 

 

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First Look at the New Qolsys IQ Panel

IMG_0992I had a chance to get a look at the New Qolsys IQ Panel 2 today before it officially launches tomorrow at ISC West 2016 in Las Vegas.

The IQ Panel 2 is powered by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ quad-core 400 processor which is a fully integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC) that supports LTE cellular, Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth® and HD display.  According to Mike Hackett at Qolsys the Qualcomm processor is the secret sauce behind the new IQ Panel 2 and it allowed Qolsys to build the thinest ALL-In One Alarm Panel we’ve seen.

IMG_0994Sexy is the first word that comes to mind when you look at the new Panel 2 but with four field replaceable radio slots, an integrated 5 Megapixel  camera , the creative use of the built in microphones  as a glass break detector and the new GUI make the IQ Panel 2 aptly equipped for current and future security and home automation needs.

We’re going to take a closer look at the new IQ Panel 2 tomorrow …. stay tuned.

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Epson EX7200 Replacement Bulb – Review

I often get asked questions about replacement bulbs for the Epson EX7200 and EX71 projectors.  First while the EX7200 and EX71 projectors LOOK the same the bulbs are different so make sure you check to see which projector you have before ordering replacement bulbs.

This blog post is for the Epson EX7200 projector,  if you have an EX71 use the search tool on the top corner to find information for that projector.

The factory original Epson replacement part number for the EX7200 Bulb is:  ELPLP58 or V13H010L58.  This bulb will work with Epson EX3200, EX5200 and EX7200 projectors.

You can buy a replacement bulb directly from Epson’s website for $269.oo (CDN)

Epson Store ELPLP58 Bulb Link

If $269.00 seems too much for a replacement lamp you are in luck because the web is full of Third Party sellers offering replacement bulbs at much lower prices … the question is which one should I buy?

When buying third party generic replacement lamps there are four things to consider.

1 – Are you buying just the light bulb itself?  You can save money by just buying the raw light bulb itself and reusing your old light bulb housing but if you go this route you will have to first take apart your old lamp housing and then install the new lamp and reassembly the lamp housing.  This can be time consuming and if you do something wrong you can end up with a lamp that doesn’t work properly.  I don’t recommend buying just the light bulb.

2 – Bulb and Housing:  When shopping for replacement bulbs I recommend buying the lamp/housing already assembled and ready to go … Plug N Play.  You can still save $100 or more buying the complete lamp assembly from a third party seller.

3 – Return Policy and Warranty:  Consider the return policy and warranty of the lamp from whoever you decide to purchase the replacement lamp from.  Damage to the lamp can occur in shipping and manufacture defects can leave you with a bulb that is DOA …. what do you do when this happens depends on where you bought the replacement lamp online. I’ve purchased several replacement lamps online from various sellers on ebay, amazon and direct websites,  my experience has lead me to recommend Amazon over others since they have a good purchase protection policy and easy returns for the buyer.

4 – Wait Until You Need It:  Projector bulbs are sold with warranties from 30 days up to 180 days.  If you purchase a bulb in advance as a spare, keep in mind that the warranty starts as soon as you receive the bulb …  If you do buy bulbs as advance replacements, I recommend installing the new bulb right away and keeping the old bulb as a backup or spare,  that way you maximize your warranty.

So far I’ve had good luck purchasing Epson Replacement bulbs from a seller on Amazon called MHM International.  At the time of this review MHM currently is selling the Epson ELPLP58 $63.69 + $8.37 shipping with 150 day warranty.  My recommendation when purchasing bulbs on line is to always check the “Compare Offers On Amazon” box on the bottom right hand corner of the product listing on Amazon.  When there are multiple sellers, selling the same product on Amazon, sometimes the seller that appears on the listing is not the seller you wish to purchase.  Check compare offers on Amazon and make sure your comfortable with the seller feedback score, the price and warranty or return policy of the product before ordering.  Here is the link to the Amazon listing for the Epson EX7200 replacement bulb from MHM International.

Electrified- Replacement Lamp With Housing For Ex-5200 Ex5200 For Epson Products – 150 Day Electrified Warranty

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SimpliSafe DIY Home Security System – ‘Inherently Insecure and Vulnerable’ to Hacking

simplisafeAnother popular DIY Home Security system, ‘SimpliSafe’ was successfully hacked on February 17th, 2016 by Andrew Zonenberg of IOActive.com.

According to Zonenberg there is a “critical” security vulnerability with the ‘Simply Safe’ System which makes it ‘Inherently Insecure’ and Prone to Hacking.

‘Simply Safe” is marketed as a low cost, no contract DIY security system with endorsements by consumer advocate Dave Ramsay and numerous five star media reviews including Good Housekeeping, Fortune, New York Post, Boston Globe and Tech Crunch just to name a few.  Prices for the base SimpliSafe system start around $200 dollars with monthly monitoring between $15 and $25 dollars (USD).

yard_sign_271_256Zonenberg revealed the details of the SimpliSafe’  hack on the IOActive blog stating “Consumers of this product need to know the product is inherently insecure and vulnerable to even a low-level attacker.  This simple vulnerability is particularly alarming because; 1) it exists within a “security product” that is trusted to secure over a million homes; 2) it enables an attacker to completely own the system (i.e., disable it, change PIN codes, etc.), and; 3) many unsuspecting consumers prominently display window and yards signs promoting their use of this system…essentially self-identifying their home as a viable target for an attacker.”

SimpliSafe responded to the hack announcement on their blog February 19, 2016 stating “The hack described is sophisticated and highly unlikely”.

SimpliSafe went on to recommend users Change their PIN Code regularly, monitor notifications for unexpected activity, take note of any suspicious person near their home and upgrade to an interactive plan and use remote access for arming and disarming their alarm system.

No security system is infallible but the SimpliSafe hack is just the latest glitch in the DIY Security and Home Automation market. 

Consumers need to be aware that not all DIY Security and Home Automation Solutions are secure and just because a system is being sold on-line or at their local hardware or electronics store doesn’t mean that system is safe and not vulnerable to hacking or exploits. 

Sources:

IOActive Blog

SimpliSafe Blog

Author:  Doyle Serink is a systems integrator for Ion Security Systems with 25 years experience in Security, Home Automation, Networking and A/V.  

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New Rules for Police Dispatch in Toronto – January 2016

Effective January 1st, 2016 Toronto Police will require no longer be responding to Non-Verified alarm signals.

The current alarm response drafted in 2012 reads “A verified call for service will be dispatched to the first available police field unit at a higher priority level.  A non-verified alarm signal will be dispatched to a police field unit at a lower priority level.  It should be noted that police response is determined by the nature of demand, priorities and resources available at the time of the request for police response.

Effective January 1, 2016, All Alarm Responses will need to be VERIFIED by one following processes:

  • Audio Device
  • Video Device
  • Multiple Zone Trips
  • Eyewitness (ie private security, guard service or person at the scene)
  • Key Holder Notification.  Unanswered calls at the premise or from the calling list are not considered to meet the requirements of the “verification process”

Panic Alarm signals are not included in the required verification process.

What this means for alarm owners in Toronto is that the police are no longer going to respond to an alarm signal without verification, unless that signal is a Panic Alarm.

Lower budgets and higher demands for service are taxing police resources not just in Toronto but across the entire country.  Most police services have employed or are moving toward a VERIFIED ALARM requirement before dispatch.

What does this mean to alarm system owners?

  1. Make sure you have a proper alarm permit for your city … if required
  2. Install or Upgrade to an interactive alarm system.  Interactive alarm systems can send voice, text, email and push alerts to your smart phone almost immediately, allowing you to confirm and verify alarm signals quickly and minimize false alarms.
  3. Two-way Voice Systems are preferred since they enable the monitoring station to Listen In and communicate with the premise.
  4. Video Cameras or Image Sensors can help Validate Alarm Signals.
  5. Installing Extra Sensors helps to meet the Multiple Zone Verification Requirement
  6. Get to know your neighbours, they can help you Verify Alarm Signals from you home as an eyewitness
  7. Add additional people to your call or notification list, especially those people who live close to your home.
  8. Inquire with your alarm company about private guard response

For more information about security systems and alarms in Edmonton contact Doyle at Ion Security

 

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Apple silently acknowledges iPhone needs a longer lasting battery

apple252520case25252021In the race to make phones slimmer and lighter, iPhone is clearly the frontrunner but sadly at the cost of diminished battery performance. Anyone who uses an iPhone knows they can’t make it through a day without having to plug in and top off the battery at some point during their day.

Today Apple released a smart battery case for the iPhone 6s and with it silently acknowledged the poor performance of the iPhone 6s battery.

Apple claims the new Smart Battery Case will add 80 percent more battery life to the iPhone 6s while doubling the thickness of the device to 14.1mm.

The new Apple Smart Case  for iPhone 6 is a one piece case design which loads from the top and unlike other cases its fairly easy to insert and remove your iPhone.  The case itself has a velvety silicone rubber feel to it and the rear battery bump wraps around your hand nicely.  The case has a built in a lighting connector, cellular antenna booster and an intelligent battery status integrated into iOS9 … all these things make this case very easy to use compared to other third party cases.apple252520case2525201

It’s unclear what Apple’s strategy is with this product.  Have they finally realized that their iPhones need bigger batteries and perhaps shifted their focus on future iPhones from make them slimmer to making them more functional, slightly thicker with bigger batteries.  Perhaps Apple is just trying to capitalize on the ever growing market of battery pack cases from third party manufacturers.  Whatever the strategy … one thing is clear,  Apple finally has acknowledged that their devices simply need bigger batteries.

There is no word from Apple if similar cases will be available for the iPhone 6 Plus models or older iPhones.

Perhaps the New Apple Smart Case for iPhone 6 will become the impetus to change Apple Design thinking away from the slimmer is better philosophy to perhaps a little thicker with a larger battery isn’t a bad thing.  Who knows.

I can’t wait to see if iPhone 7 will be thicker with a larger built in battery or perhaps … heaven forbid a removable battery?  Ok maybe that’s asking too much from Apple.

The Smart Case for iPhone 6/s comes in two colors, Charcoal or White and Sells for $99 in the US and $129 in Canada.

Links:

Apple USA Store Product Link

Apple Store Canada Link

 

 

 

 

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SanDisk 32GB microSDHC Card with SD Adapter USB 2.0 Reader – Review

Costco in Canada is currently selling this SDHC Card bundle for $23.99 which is a great price for a 32GB SanDisk Ultra SDHC card and you get the full sized SD Card adapter and a handy USB2 Adapter included in the package.

Overall this SanDisk Ultra SDHC card is great for recording HD videos on your GoPro camera and for storing music and apps on your smart phone.

Read and Write speeds.  Benchmarks on the SanDisk Ultra range between 10-15MB/s which is plenty fast for shooting 4K Video on your GoPro Camera without any problems.  Equally important is reliability and for my money SanDisk is one of the better, more reliable brands of SD cards available.

Most micro SD cards come with a full sized SD Card adapter but one of the benefits of this package is the Handy microSD to USB2 reader.  While some computers have SD card slots built in for the ones that don’t transferring files from a micro SD card to a computer generally means using  two adapters, first a micro SD to SC card adapter and then a SD card to USB adapter.  SanDisk avoids all this by allowing you to plug the micro SD Card in directly to the USB port with one convenient adapter.

Digital Cameras:  While it is possible to use Micro SD Cards adapters in place of full sized SD Cards in digital cameras it is not recommended since you may experience slower write speeds due to the adapter.  This is especially important when recording video.  Don’t get me wrong, micro SD cards will work in digital cameras, you just may experience occasional write errors which can be frustrating.  Personally, I’ve had this happen several times.

Thumb Drives:  Many people like using micro SD Cards as USB thumb drives because of their size and portability.  While it may be possible to use a Micro SD card as a USB Thumb Drive is is not recommended since read and write speeds will vary and are prone to drop outs due once again to the USB adapter.  While a micro SD card to USB reader is great for transferring data it can be problematic when streaming music or videos.

Conclusion:

Overall the SanDisk 32GB micro SDHC Card with SD Adapter and USB 2.) Reader is an excellent value with exceptional performance and good reliability.

This SanDisk Micro SD Card package is available for a$23.99 at Costco Wholesale Locations across Canada while supplies last.

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D-Link Water Sensor Review

Damage from water leaks, burst pipes and broken appliances totals more than 9 billion dollars a year in property losses for North America.

The key to preventing or minimizing water damage to floor, carpets, drywall and baseboards is early detection. If left unchecked, water damage can cause mold which is not only costly to repair but can be a serious health hazard.

I have personally experienced water damage four times in my life, the first when a hot tub pipe flooded the basement. Next when a hose fitting broke on our kitchen sink faucet.  A few years later the evaporator coil in our furnace froze up and flooded a portion of our basement.  Most recently our hot water tank sprung a leak and flooded the utility room. Each one of these leaks resulted in thousands of dollars in damage and in each case, the damage would have been less if the water leak was detected sooner.

The D-Link DCH-S160 is a simple, easy, cost effective way to detect water leaks in your home. The D-link water sensor consists of a main unit which is gloss white and plugs into a 110V AC electrical outlet. A 3.3 foot telephone type cable plugs into the bottom of the main unit and then a 1.6 foot sensor cable plugs into the extension cable completing the assembly. The water sensor probe is located near the area or appliance where you want to be notified of leaks. Sump pumps, water pumps, washers, dishwashers, water tanks, hot water heaters, toilets, sinks, air conditioners and hot tubs are just some of the places you might want to place a D-Link Water Sensor.

Once the sensor is in place pairing is done using the WPS button on your router. Once the main sensor unit is paired, you need to download the Mydlink Home App on your tablet or smart phone and then a private Peer to Peer (P2P)connection is established between your device and the water sensor by scanning a QR Code that came with the D-Link Water Sensor.

My home has 2 routers in it so I was concerned that the P2P connection may not work since port forwarding can be pretty tricky when two routers are involved. It took two tries but on the second attempt the MyDlink Home App was able to find and connect with the water sensor, and I’m happy to say it’s been a couple of weeks and the water sensor has stayed connected to the mydlink services and MyDlink Home app without issue. I even unplugged the water sensor and moved it to another location and the mydlink app was still able to connect and find it.

How Does It Work:
I hooked the D-link, DCH-S160 up to my sump pump and then behind my washing machine for a couple of weeks and in both cases the water sensor performed perfectly. I didn’t have any leaks however I did simulate leaks in both scenarios to test out the sensor and it performed well. It takes only a few drops of water on the sensor to activate the alarm and when it is triggered a local siren beeps and a notification is sent all the phones and tablets with the Mydlink Home App installed on them.

In my tests the notifications on my devices were almost immediate, say 5-10 seconds, which is pretty amazing. I do have two concerns regarding the water alarm alerts. First the built in siren is only rated at 70db which is pretty quiet and probably would go unnoticed in a noisy house.  Likewise the built in siren probably wouldn’t wake you up if you were sleeping. The notifications on the iPhone are just regular notifications also and not very loud.  There is no way in the app on the iPhone to customize the notifications to be louder. Lastly regarding notifications and sleeping if you are like me an put your phone into sleep mode before bed, all notifications are silenced so in this case a loud local alarm siren would be very beneficial.

D-Link does make an optional wireless siren (DCH-S220) which I’m told is much louder (110db) and can be installed anywhere in the home where there is a 110V outlet. I haven’t been able to test the siren yet so I can’t say how well it works. If d-link sends me one, I’ll test it and let you know if it’s worth purchasing.

Overall the D-Link DCH-S160 Water Sensor is well built and exceeded my expectations. The water sensor is affordable, easy to install and notifies you quickly when the water alarm is triggered.

For more information about the D-link water sensor and to see it in use watch the video.

If you wish to purchase a D-Link Water Sensor just click the Amazon link below for US or Canada stores.

Amazon.com Link:  D-Link DCH-S160 mydlink Wi-Fi Water Sensor

Amazon.ca Link:   D-Link DCH-S160 mydlink Wi-Fi Water Sensor, White

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Wi-Fi Assist on Apple iOS 9 Can Cause a Spike in Cellular Data Use

Apple’s new iOS 9 has several significant improvements from its predecessor but one new feature called Wi-Fi Assist is being blamed for a spike in cellular data usage and can lead to considerable expense if you’re not careful

Wi-Fi Assist is a new mode on iOS 9 that automatically switches your iOS device from Wi-Fi to cellular data when it encounters weak or poor Wi-Fi Signals.  At first many iOS 9 users thought this was just a glitch in the operating system but Apple designed it to give the user a better streaming experience albeit at the expense of cellular data.

If you have an unlimited cellular data plan then you have nothing to worry about, however if you live in Canada where data rates are some of the highest in the world,  having your iPhone or iPad switch from Wi-Fi to Cellular data while watching your favourite YouTube video could cost you big time if you exceed your data cap.  Cellular data rates in Canada average 5¢ a megabyte when you’re over your cap.  Watching streaming video from YouTube or Netflix using cellular data could set you back $20/hour.

In order to avoid burning up your cellular data and avoid extra charges I recommend turning off Wi-Fi Assist on all devices running iOS 9.  This is especially important for children’s or teenager’s devices.

To Turn Off Wi-Fi Assist in iOS9 :

Go to Settings

Select Cellular,

Scroll down to Wi-Fi Assist at the bottom of the page

Then Move the Slider to “OFF”

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Sony Closes On-line Stores


In the first quarter of this year Sony closed all of their stand alone retail Sony Stores, now it looks like their online retail stores are next.  Sony announced the closure of it’s On-Line Retail Stores in North America,  https://store.sony.com/ in the USA and http://store.sony.ca/  in Canada, effective August 28, 2015

Generally the cost of operating an on-line retail store is much less than a Bricks and Mortar locations so the closure of Sony’s online stores is surprising but speaks to the state of consumer electronics industry and the continuing decline of television sales.

If you have any Sony Store gift certificates or credits you might want to use them up before August 28, 2015.

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